The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) — the nation’s leading source on parasitic diseases that threaten the health of pets and people — recently issued the CAPC Top 10 Cities Monthly HOOKWORM Report for June 2020 — with Rockford, Illinois, topping the list as #1 across the country.
“The recent outbreak of COVID-19, with its animal origin, has made people acutely aware of the close relationship between animal and human health — and the need to regularly monitor disease at the local level,” said Dr. Chris Carpenter, DVM and CAPC’s Chief Executive Officer. “With the growing threat of hookworm, CAPC expands its decade-long mission to regularly monitor parasitic diseases in communities across the U.S. with its new CAPC Top 10 Cities Monthly HOOKWORM Report.”
What are hookworms?
Hookworms are parasites that live in contaminated soil and infect dogs and cats in all 50 states.
Hookworm disease is a zoonotic, parasitic disease threatening the health of both pets and people, and can cause debilitation or death, especially in puppies and kittens.
Pets can become infected by hookworm larvae penetrating the skin, licking paws, chewing contaminated toys, or ingesting infected prey such as mice. Larvae migrate until they become adults in the intestines.
Hookworm can also be transmitted from nursing mothers to puppies and kittens.
What else causes hookworm?
Any outdoor area where dogs and cats have access can become reservoirs of hookworm larvae. Typical areas of contamination include neighborhood streets, common areas, backyards, gardens, sandboxes, beaches and rest areas. Hookworms produce a massive number of eggs on a daily basis, heightening the risk of environmental contamination. Regularly removing feces (at least once a week) is critical to preventing the spread of hookworms.
The report and what it monitors:
The new monthly report alerts pet parents, veterinarians and pet-related services about the emerging threat of hookworm by identifying U.S. metro areas experiencing the highest percentage increase in positive hookworm tests in the last 30 days.
Pets living in cities on this month’s CAPC Top 10 Cities HOOKWORM Report may have been exposed due to several risk factors, including environmental contamination from pet owners who don’t pick up dog stools, the growing popularity of dog parks, and pet owners not administering year-round, broad-spectrum parasite control preventatives.
In June, the following 10 U.S. cities had the highest percentage increase in positive hookworm tests:
1) Rockford, Illinois
2) Brownsville, Texas
3) Reno, Nevada
4) Cheyenne, Wyoming
5) Bakersfield, California
6) Jackson, Mississippi
7) Spokane, Washington
8) Salinas, California
9) Cape Coral, Florida
10) Billings, Montana
Protecting your pet, family and community:
A recent study shows a 47% increase in the number of canine hookworm cases in the U.S. from 2012-2018 (Parasites & Vectors, 2019) — with CAPC maps reporting 212,863 positive cases of canine hookworm infections nationwide in 2018.
“An increase in hookworm prevalence not only alerts communities to a heightened threat to the health of dogs and cats, but it also warns of an increased threat to the health of children and families who can potentially contract hookworm infection,” said Dr. Craig Prior, BVSC, CVJ, CAPC board member. “This demonstrates how vital it is for dogs and cats to be protected against hookworm parasites with broad-spectrum, year-round preventatives and, at a minimum, bi-annual testing.”
As Prior noted, CAPC recommends that all dogs and cats be protected with monthly broad-spectrum parasite control with efficacy against hookworms year-round. CAPC also recommends puppies and kittens be tested at least four times in the first year of life for hookworms and other intestinal parasites; and at least two times per year in adults — even if they are on year-round preventives.
Prior added, “By protecting your pet, you are protecting other pets, your family, other families — and your entire community.”
Signs of hookworm:
- In dogs, signs of hookworm infection may include dark, tarry diarrhea, anemia, loss of appetite, weight loss and skin lesions. Puppies infected with hookworms are at greater risk due to blood loss.
- In cats, signs of hookworm infection may include diarrhea or anemia. Respiratory disease and pneumonia may occur as larvae migrate through the lungs. In kittens, hookworms can be fatal due to blood loss.
- In people, hookworm infection is generally displayed on the skin with itching at the infection site and appears as cutaneous larval migrans — a winding, threadlike, raised rash. People should avoid walking barefoot in areas of potential contamination, and wear gloves and shoes when gardening.
To more closely pinpoint risk areas for hookworm:
Visit CAPC Parasite Prevalence Maps at http://www.capcvet.org
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (http://www.capcvet.org) is an independent not-for-profit foundation comprised of parasitologists, veterinarians, medical, public health and other professionals that provides information for the optimal control of internal and external parasites that threaten the health of pets and people.
Formed in 2002, CAPC works to help veterinary professionals and pet owners develop the best practices in parasite management that protect pets from parasitic infections and reduce the risk of zoonotic parasite transmission.